Feed on

As you may recall (or not), Simon spent a lot of time in swim lessons back when he was five. He started with Red Cross swim classes the summer before his last year of preschool, switched over to the Lenny Krayzelburg academy (also at the JCC) in September, and continued there through May, nearly 10 months of unbroken, weekly swim lessons.

For the most part, he did great! He could float forever, had a credible back-stroke and catch-up stroke, and was very close to a mature freestyle when he burnt out. Part of the problem was that he only got in the pool once a week, when it was lesson time. That’s no fun, but that’s the way of winter swimming. Another issue was that he sputtered in the pool one day, swallowed and then spat up a lot of water, and was understandably freaked out afterwards.

But the biggest issue was one of confidence and feel. Simon was always willing to pay attention, follow instructions, and work hard. These are wonderful qualities, but they don’t make up for a lack of a natural feel in the water or confidence. Back then, Simon spent a lot of time negotiating with his instructor Julie about how close she’d stay to him and whether she’d keep a hand on his back or under his head for security while he swam.

After two or three suspiciously timed stomach ailments, I decided it was time for a break. The break was supposed to last a few months, but somehow stretched to over two years. Finally, this summer I laid down the law. Simon didn’t have to love swim lessons, but he did have to take them. We switched pools and lessons, going from group lessons using the Lenny K method at the JCC to Swim America private lessons at a tennis and swim club.

The results have been marvelous. Wednesday was Simon’s 7th lesson, meaning he has been in the water for a total of three hours. Just three little hours, and he did something he never allowed Julie to even think about: He swam in the pool while his new teacher, Eliza, coached from the pool deck. I was so proud of him!

Full disclosure, when I say “swim” I mean, “float on back and kick, turn to stomach and use arms once or twice and kick, return to back and kick.” He’s a little bit away from a real backstroke and quite a bit from a freestyle. Having said, he’s independently getting from one end of the pool to the other with no help or security hand, which strikes me as more than half the battle.

I attribute this marvelous improvement largely to timing. Simon at 7 has much more confidence than he did at 5. What’s more, he thinks of himself as physically capable, “sportie” in his own words. I think this time around he approached the pool not as a battle to win, but instead as a new arena in which to succeed.

The only downside to any of this is that now he wants to continue swim lessons into the fall, and I can’t figure out for the life of me how to fit that into a schedule already super-sized with soccer, tennis, and drum lessons. As “problems” go, this is one I’m happy to take.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.